Keystone Senior has a memorable season on the volleyball court ::


KNOX, PA (EYT / D9) – Jozee Weaver didn’t know how his team would survive.

COVID-19 quarantines and protocols shut down the Keystone volleyball team for two weeks.

(Above, Jozee Weaver, left, and Alyssa Weaver hold the District 9 Championship trophy)

To catch up, the Panthers had to play eight games in 11 days – a grueling period that tested the resolve of Weaver and his Keystone teammates.

“We had two weeks where we couldn’t play at all,” Weaver said. “And then we had to catch up with all those games. There was a week where we had a game every day and it was hard to do nothing to have all those games in a row.

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Weaver, a senior outside hitter, was understandably concerned. The goal since Keystone lost to Redbank Valley last year in the District 9 Class 2A title game has been to come back and win it this time around. The COVID disruption was the kind of thing that can torpedo a season.

Weaver and his teammates, however, weren’t going to let that happen.

Keystone performed well in their marathon program, reached the district championship game – again facing Redbank Valley – and won it this time around. It was the first D9 title for the Panthers volleyball team since 1992.

“As soon as we got back from quarantines, we developed more as a team,” said Weaver. “I am really proud of us. We stayed in there. We held our heads up high. We stayed together and played hard.

The Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association recently recognized all of this hard work by naming Weaver and Keystone juniors Leah Exley and Sydney Bell to their District 9 Class 2A all-star squad.

Keystone was the only team to clinch three spots.

“It means a lot,” Weaver said. “I’ve been doing it for so long and all the hard work that not only me but my teammates have done. It’s nice to see that recognized. It was good to see (Exley and Bell) succeed. They deserved this. They work hard, as hard as me or anyone else. They are both very good players and it was nice to know they were by my side.

Keystone volleyball coach Bryan Mong was also delighted that Weaver, Exley and Bell received such recognition.

“It’s always great to have players mentioned in playoff awards, especially when it comes to a vote submitted by our opponents’ coaches,” said Mong. “I have the luxury of working with (Weaver, Exley and Bell) all year round and seeing the effort they put in, but having other coaches who see the results of their work to the point of recognizing their exploits as well as a great honor for these players. I am extremely proud of them and of the whole team this year.

Weaver has emerged as another threat against Exley this season with 124 kills. She also had 117 digs and 39 serving aces this season.

(Jozee Weaver serves in the District Championship game against Redbank Valley)

Bell, a junior, also became a threat at net with 138 kills. She was also a reliable blocker with 39 this season.

Exley led the team with 231 kills and also added 136 digs and 50 aces.

Weaver is a multisport star at Keystone. If she were to classify her sports, volleyball would come under basketball and track and field.

“Volleyball is my fun sport,” Weaver said.

That’s not to say she slackens when it comes to working on it.

Her two older sisters played volleyball and Weaver was always around the sport.

Eventually she started to play too.

“I’ve always known the basics,” Weaver said. “When I was there, I always stung with them and all that. Little by little, I learned more and more about it.

Her sisters never managed to win a D9 volleyball crown. Weaver was glad he was able to do it.

Now she is focusing on basketball – her No.1 sport and the one she wants to play in college.

She didn’t always want to dress to the next level. It was a recent revelation.

“I’m still looking,” Weaver said. “I have a few offers, and I’m always looking for a bunch of different schools. I haven’t made a choice yet, but I have a few schools in mind. I have to make a choice.

“I wasn’t sure I wanted to play,” added Weaver, who wants to be a neonatal nurse. “I just didn’t want it to end.”

Here is a list of the players who have been named District 9 Class 2A Stars by the PVCA:

Leah Exley (Keystone), junior outside hitter
Jozee Weaver (Keystone), senior outside hitter
Sydney Bell (Keystone), junior mid-hitter
Alivia Huffman (Redbank Valley), junior outside hitter
Caylen Rearick (Redbank Valley), young libero
Cora Jekielek (Kane), junior outside hitter
Myka Castanzo (Kane), young libero
Ashton Pangallo (Brookville), senior passer
Ciara Toven (Punxsutawney), sophomore outside hitter

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Sports coverage of Redbank Valley, Keystone and Union / AC Valley on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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